"Thelonious Monk is my God. Miles Davis I revere," murmurs John Bull. "I love all jazz, but I didn't expect to get caught up in it for quite so long," confides the artist, who has spent the last six years painting his musical heroes. This week, an exhibition of his work opens in London, with portraits of jazz legends such as Billie Holiday and John Coltrane illustrating his penchant for the golden age of 1950s New York.

Painting on both wood and canvas, Bull captures not just the dynamism of performance, but the wildly differing sensibilities of his subjects. Which is how Chet Baker gets to be Smashed, while the more reflective, lyrical Miles Davis earns a study entitled Misty. Jazzing-up his subjects with collaged fragments of existing and invented memorabilia, Bull locates his musicians in the intimate, nocturnal world of a smoky backroom club. Drawings and canvases are on sale for between pounds 500 and pounds 2,000 - "but the paintings are quite big," adds Bull modestly.

Gallery 27, 27 Cork St, London W1 (0171-437 2812), 7 to 26 Apr

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